Security Deposits of Residential Tenants in Oklahoma
Title 41 of the Oklahoma Statutes governs the payment, deposit and return of security deposits of residential tenants in Oklahoma. Many landlords are unfamiliar with the security deposit statute (41 Okl.St.Ann. § 115), and they unwittingly subject themselves to civil, and even criminal penalties, for mishandling the security deposits paid to them by residential tenants.
A residential tenant's security deposit must be kept in a escrow account maintained for the tenant with a financial institution that is located in Oklahoma and that is federally insured.
The penalties for a landlord's misappropriation of a tenant's security deposit a significant. Pursuant to 41 Okl.St.Ann. § 115, a landlord may be punished by "a term in a county jail not to exceed six (6) months and by a fine in an amount not to exceed twice the amount misappropriated from the escrow account."
At the termination of a tenancy, the security deposit may be applied to payment of any rent that has accrued, as well as damages which the landlord has suffered by reason of the tenant's noncompliance with the tenant's obligations under the law and/or rental agreement. Any portion of the security deposit that is retained by the landlord must be itemized in a written statement delivered by mail to the tenant, return receipt requested, and to be signed for by any person of statutory service age at such address or in person to the tenant if he can reasonably be found. If the landlord proposes to retain any portion of the security deposit for rent, damages or other legally allowable charges under the provisions of this act or the rental agreement, the landlord shall return the balance of the security deposit without interest to the tenant within thirty (30) days after the termination of tenancy, delivery of possession and written demand by the tenant.